By Chevi Rabbit, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
(ANNews) – A dangerous gap in services for young adults and youth in government care in Alberta will be filled next month, with the introduction of the new Transition to Adulthood Program (TAP).
Starting April 4, 2022, TAP will provide young adults who were formerly in care with a new support model that includes targeted services based on their goals and dreams for their future.
In total, $48 million has been allocated to support Youth in Transition Programming, which includes TAP.
Transitioning to adulthood can be especially challenging for youth in government care and young adults who were previously in care.
“When you transition out of government care, you don’t always have the long-term, consistent support that makes life so much easier for people living on their own for the first time,” stated Marlene Orr, executive director, Native Counselling Services of Alberta.
Transitional supports and resources to support former and current Indigenous youth in care and young adults navigate the adult world are essential to any successful transition into adulthood, she added.
Transition to Adulthood Program (TAP) participants aged 18-24 will have access to social and emotional transitional supports, as well as mentoring opportunities, life skills, mental health and addiction supports, and help finding work. As well, participants will have access to financial supports up until the day before they turn 22.
“The changes that come with going out on your own are hard for any young person, and we know that young adults previously in care face unique challenges during that transition,” said Rebecca Schulz, Minister of Children’s Services.
“This new program will help current and former youth in care live successful lives on their own terms and work towards the futures they envision for themselves by providing the supports and connections they need, when they need them, to make that happen.”
Children’s Services is also continuing to offer mentorship programs so young adults can build the vital relationships that will help them navigate the path to independent success.
“Positive relationships are critical to a young person’s success, and the Boys and Girls Club Big Brothers Big Sisters works closely with Children’s Services to provide mentoring, tools and supports to youth in care and young adults as they transition to adulthood, to help them be successful in school and in life,” said Liz O’Neill, executive director, Boys and Girls Club Big Brothers Big Sisters.
A key piece of the Transition to Adulthood Program is the Advancing Futures program, the only program of its kind in Canada, which will continue to provide funding and emotional and social supports for eligible young adults who have been in government care to support them in pursuing post-secondary studies.
Young adults can apply to the Advancing Futures program up until the day before they turn 25 and can receive supports to pursue their educational goals for up to 5 years or until the day before they turn 31.
The program will focus on helping them find mentors, develop employment and life skills, attain post-secondary education and maintain connections to people in their lives who can give them ongoing emotional support.
Spencer, an Advancing Futures graduate and University of Alberta law student said, “There’s just so much to manage when you start out, like budgeting and taking care of yourself. I’m glad that young adults will have additional supports to help them through this challenging time.”
TAP will encompass both the Advancing Futures program and the Support and Financial Agreements. It will also offer new services not previously provided by SFAA and the Advancing Futures program, such as providing access to more emotional and social transitional supports, employment and career programs, and mentoring opportunities.
Young adults currently receiving support though the Ministry of Children’s Services will be transitioned to TAP following the launch of the program. Previous clients who qualify can apply for the TAP program once the new program launches in April.